Tuesday, 24 June 2008

“Blind Imitation of Europe”

I leave you this fine evening with a column by Thomas Sowell.

Addendum: That Europe is doing something we’re not is no reason whatsoever for us to do it. Here is my proof. Suppose Europe is doing something we’re not. Either there is a good reason for Europe’s doing it or there is not. If there is a good reason for Europe’s doing it, then it’s that reason, and not the fact that Europe is doing it, that should move us to change. If there is no good reason for Europe’s doing it, then obviously we shouldn’t do it. Therefore, either we should change because there is good reason to change or we should not change at all. In either event, it’s irrelevant what Europe is doing.


Do you put any stock in surveys of religious belief or practice? See here for a New York Times story about a recent survey. According to the survey, a significant percentage of theists believe that there are multiple paths to salvation. The first problem with this is that one can believe that there is only one true religion while still believing that adherents of other religions can be saved. This is known as inclusivism (as opposed to exclusivism, which holds that there is only one path to salvation: through the single true religion). Pluralists, by contrast, deny that there is a single true religion and hence deny that there is a single path to salvation. The second problem with the story is that it fails to acknowledge that there is social pressure to hide one’s exclusivism. A theist who is an exclusivist is likely to pretend to be either an inclusivist or a pluralist so as not to seem stingy, mean, or pusillanimous. We know, for example, that there are more homosexuals than admit to it. I suspect that there are more exclusivists than admit to it.

Addendum: The word “tolerance” appears several times in the story, including in the title. The reporter obviously doesn’t understand tolerance. To tolerate is to put up with, which implies two things: first, that I believe you are wrong in your beliefs or conduct; and second, that, in spite of this belief on my part, I will not harm you. What does this have to do with thinking that adherents of other faiths can (or will) be saved?

Addendum 2: If you’re interested in this topic, here is a list of readings that I prepared for the students in my Philosophy of Religion course.

Addendum 3: Let me come at it from a different direction. There are three things an adherent of one religion can say to an adherent of another religion:

Exclusivism: “Your religion is false and you’re going to burn in hell forever (or at least be denied salvation).”

Inclusivism: “Your religion is false, but there’s a chance you’ll be saved nonetheless.”

Pluralism: “Your religion is as true as mine; therefore, both of us can be saved.”

Only the second of these could be described as tolerance. So when the reporter for the Times says that 70% of American theists are tolerant, the reporter is saying that 70% of American theists are inclusivists, and therefore that 70% of American theists believe that theirs is the only true religion.


I love collecting things. I collect (or at one time collected) coins, books, T-shirts (from bike rallies and footraces), baseball cards, beer cans, magazines, eight-track tapes, cassette tapes, DVDs, and compact discs. I have a huge CD collection. Many years ago, I discovered a German band named Passport. I bought four albums on cassette tape: Iguaçu (1977), Oceanliner (1980), Blue Tattoo (1981), and Man in the Mirror (1983). I love these albums, but never replaced them on CD and haven’t heard them in over a decade. The other day, I decided to start a Passport collection. Between 1972 and 2006, the band produced 30 albums. I wanted to start at the beginning, so the other day I ordered the first album, Passport (1972), for $49.99. It’s a Japanese import. I also ordered Iguaçu. Right now I’m listening to Passport. There are five musicians on the album: four Germans and one American. The band appears to be the brainchild of Klaus Doldinger. I’ll try to find a song on YouTube so you can take a listen.

Addendum: Here is the first song on the first album. Here is a song that brings back wonderful memories of riding my bike in the Sonoran Desert.

Baseball, Part 2

Here are the latest All-Star figures for the American League. Here are the latest figures for the National League. Thank God there will be only two Yankees (Choke-Rod and D-Jet) in the starting lineup. There could be as many as five Red Sox starting the game in Yankee Stadium. It will drive Yankee fans crazy. Oh wait, they already are.


In just a few days
I can resume my taunting
Of Yankee lovers

A Year Ago



If you remember this song, then you’re a fogy like me. Name the artist.

All Fred, All the Time

Fred Thompson narrates this inspirational political advertisement. How did we end up with John McCain as the Republican standard bearer? What the hell happened? It’s truly dismaying.

Gregory S. Kavka (1947-1994) on International Aid

What about a wealthy and powerful nation aiding poor, weak nations? Is this in the long-run interest of the former as well as the latter? In a world of advanced technology, international markets, ideological conflicts among powerful nations, and nuclear weapons, it most probably is. In competition with other powerful nations, allies—even poor nations—are useful for political, economic, and military reasons. And economic development of poor nations should in the long run produce economic benefits for richer nations, for example, by providing markets and reliable supplies of various raw and finished goods. Most important, continued poverty in the third world is likely to produce continued turmoil, civil wars, and regional wars between nations. In a world armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons, and with more and more nations acquiring such weapons, the long-run danger of rich, developed countries being drawn into a devastating military conflict begun by a desperate poor nation, or some desperate group within such a nation, is far from negligible.

(Gregory S. Kavka, Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986], 442)

Twenty Years Ago Yesterday

6-23-88 . . . Carl Rowan [1925-2000] is a liberal columnist for the Washington Post. I used to read his columns in the Detroit News, but since moving to Arizona I’ve been unable to do so. I didn’t mind, because Rowan is no great intellect. The other day, Rowan was awakened by noises outside his suburban Washington home. He took a small-caliber handgun from his bureau drawer and went outside. Two teenagers were swimming in his pool. One of them approached and Rowan, frightened, fired the gun. The bullet struck the youth in the wrist. Since Rowan has for years advocated strict gun-control measures, and since the gun he fired was unregistered, he has caught the wrath of conservatives all over the nation. Every political pundit has something to say about it (even me!). Conservatives call Rowan a hypocrite for saying one thing and doing another, while members of the National Rifle Association claim that this shows the importance of having a gun in the home. “What if the youth had been an armed intruder?”, they ask. “Having a gun is a means of protection.”

To me, the interesting queston [sic; should be “question”] is not whether Rowan is a hypocrite (of course he is); it’s whether this incident supports or undermines the case for gun control. I think it supports it. The best gun-control argument that I know of is this. Many things can happen if there’s a gun in a house. The kids can pick it up and shoot someone; adults can use it in the heat of passion, when otherwise all they would do is yell; an adult can shoot a harmless (though not necessarily innocent) intruder, as Rowan did; an adult can shoot a dangerous intruder; or an adult can use it to commit suicide in a fit of depression. Of all the things that can happen with a gun around the house, most of them are bad. Studies support this. So we should do what we can to eliminate guns from homes. One effective way to do this is to ban them by law. This won’t rid all homes of guns, to be sure, but it will lower the number substantially. Now, such a ban is bound to result in a few homeowners being unable to defend themselves from dangerous intruders, but this is outweighed by the harm avoided. That’s the argument. Rowan shot a harmless intruder. Hypocrite he may be, but his argument for gun-control is supported by his own actions.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Someone Else’s Alex,” by William Kristol (column, June 23):

Over the course of his campaign, Senator John McCain has said he is fine with a United States presence in Iraq for 100 years as long as we are not taking casualties. William Kristol thinks our quoting him on this in our ad “Not Alex” is dishonest.

But with violence continuing on the ground in Iraq and no exit strategy, it is reasonable to ask, How many generations of young Americans will be expected to pay the price of this misguided war?

For too long, John McCain has gotten away with an answer that is fantastically hypothetical—that United States troops can remain in Iraq without being shot at. Few believe this is a real possibility in the foreseeable future, and the comparison to the United States presence in Germany, Japan and South Korea is both absurd and historically inaccurate.

When we established permanent bases in those countries, there were no insurgents shooting at our soldiers. Most Iraqis and many foreign policy experts believe that our presence is one cause of the violence. But John McCain’s position seems to be that we should stay to quell the very violence that our presence is catalyzing, so that we can stay when there is no violence.

That’s the kind of faulty logic that got us into this war in the first place.

All American parents realize that their children may have to serve in the military and pay the ultimate price. We honor all those who have served and wish to serve. Our ad simply gives voice to the fear of millions of parents that John McCain will ask generations of Americans to serve in an unwinnable war, with a failed strategy based on lies, maybe for as long as 100 years.

Eli Pariser
Executive Director, MoveOn.org
Brooklyn, June 23, 2008

Note from KBJ: This man doesn’t grasp the concept of a voluntary military. When Alex comes of age, he will decide for himself whether to risk his life in service to his country. He may well disown his mother for presuming to make this important decision for him.


I may have vented about this before, but in case I haven’t, here goes.

During Texas Rangers baseball games, when a player comes up with the bases loaded, the following graphic appears on the screen:

Career with Bases Loaded:
.317, 4 Grand Slams

I hate this! It should say “Home Runs,” not “Grand Slams.” Compare the following:

Number of Female Children:
3 Daughters

Do you see my gripe? I hate redundancy. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!